Gone is the pervasive smell of bleach in the entryway of the building on Seven Corners that housed Sgt Preston's. There's no longer a need to cover up the unsavory smells of collegiate debauchery. The fishbowls of booze are gone; the bar-top game consoles, dart boards, and pool tables are no longer; but the large game heads still adorn the dark walls under new Tiffany lamps, overlooking a bar newly stocked with over 30 tap beers.
Welcome to Republic, the latest venture by Matty O'Reilly, co-owner of the Aster and 318 Cafes. O'Reilly hopes to reinvent the infamous party corner as a dining destination with a mellow, warm, welcoming vibe, approachable but interesting food, and a beer selection to rival the most ambitious lists in town. Here's our first look at the new restaurant.[jump]
The beer list is impressive, featuring "over 30 taps, chock full of local, craft, Belgian, Belgian-style and German beers for your drinking pleasure," priced to move at $4 to $6. Or you can get your Hamms in a can for a mere $2.
The eyes of one of our dining companions lit up when he found Kwak, a Belgian amber, on the beer list. Republic is one of a handful of local restaurants that offer the beer, served in a distinctive wooden handle.
The ricotta fritters with honey ($6) came highly recommended by our server. They land around the midpoint of the appetizer list, which ranges from $4 (for the soup of the day or french fries) to $9 (for the mussels or Serrano ham). A dressed-up bar snack, the fritters were lighter than your average fried cheese stick, with a pleasant sweetness from the shmear of honey.
The fish tacos (tilapia with cabbage slaw, served on soft corn tortillas with pico de gallo) had a subtle kick and proved to be a filling meal for $7.
The entree list, while not extensive, does show impressive range in both price and fare. At the low end is the poached eggs with squash and potato hash and chimichurri for $8--a dish for which our server borrowed Rachel Ray's description of "BLD: breakfast, lunch, or dinner." At the high end is the New York Strip with asparagus and roasted potatoes for $25.
In the mid-range is the local sausages with roasted potatoes and mustard ($9) and the seafood bouillabaisse ($13). The sausages are made by northeast Minneapolis favorite Kramarczuk's and served with a grainy raisin mustard.
Republic offers two desserts daily for $2 a pop, and a beer of the day for $3 all day. The space is sectioned off into three rooms--the bar, a separate dining room, and a room that will eventually be dedicated to live music (hopefully by August, says O'Reilly). The patio also has 200 seats and is open for business daily from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.
REPUBLIC at Seven Corners 221 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis 612.338.6146 Website